What Is Blurred Vision?
In most cases, blurred vision is probably a sign that you need glasses. But if the blurred vision comes on suddenly, it can be a sign of a serious medical emergency. Any vision change is unusual. But some causes are more serious than others.
Often blurring is the result of a temporary reaction, and it usually goes away on its own. If blurred vision is accompanied by other symptoms or there is no improvement, see a doctor right away – especially if the change is sudden.
Below, we look at the many causes of blurred vision and the different treatment options.
Types of Blurred Vision
Some vision problems, called refractive errors, can cause blurred vision. This includes:
- Myopia (nearsightedness)
- Hyperopia (farsightedness)
All these vision problems make it difficult to see things clearly. Sometimes, people don’t even realize they have a problem with their vision.
Treatments for common vision refractive errors include prescription glasses or contact lenses. Laser eye surgery can also correct refractive errors.
Blurred Vision Symptoms
Symptoms of refractive errors include:
- Hazy, blurred vision
- Seeing double
- Tired eyes
- Difficulty reading (both analog and digital)
If your vision is blurry, you will usually notice that your vision is not as sharp. You may find that your vision becomes blurry and not as clear. People may think their vision is blurry, but they actually have another vision problem such as:
- Problems with their field of vision, such as tunnel vision
- Double vision (diplopia)
- Distorted vision
It is important to have regular eye exams. An optometrist or ophthalmologist can catch vision problems before they get worse. They can also tell you whether your vision problems are due to a problem with your eyes or a non-eye-related condition. If you don’t have problems with your eyes, they’ll refer you to your family doctor or specialist.
If your blurred vision is accompanied by other physical symptoms, you should see a doctor immediately. The blurriness you are experiencing could be the result of something serious.
Causes and Treatment
Some causes of blurred vision are benign, while others require medical intervention. Here are some possible causes of blurred vision.
Staring at a computer screen all day or scanning documents in low light can tire your eyes and cause blurry vision. Resting your eyes will return your vision to normal. Other symptoms of eye strain include headache, watery eyes, and fatigue in the facial muscles.
Pink eye (conjunctivitis) occurs when the eye becomes irritated, either from an infection or an allergy. Symptoms include swelling, redness, and discharge. The discharge can cause blurred vision. Pink eye may not require prescription medication in most cases, but if the cause is found to be a bacterial infection, the doctor may prescribe antibiotic drops.
Diabetes can cause many problems with the eyes, including glaucoma, cataracts and macular edema. Vision may also change, even if you do not have any specific eye disease related to diabetes. Uncontrolled diabetes can cause blurred vision.
Vision usually returns to normal once blood sugar stabilizes. Nevertheless, it is necessary to treat the root cause to prevent further complications.
Blood in the Eye
Hyphema occurs when blood pools in the front of the eye. The pooled blood can impede vision and cause blurriness. This is usually the result of a traumatic injury, but it can also be caused by a blood clotting disorder or cancer.
Other symptoms include photosensitivity and eye pain. Usually, treatment involves resting the eye and protecting it until it heals.
When the optic nerve becomes inflamed or otherwise damaged, it can cause blurred vision. Symptoms of optic neuritis include blurred vision, blurred color vision and pain that is usually felt upon eye movement. In some people the swelling goes away on its own. Treatment for some cases may include corticosteroids.
Uveitis occurs when the middle layer of the eye becomes irritated. Iritis is also a term that is sometimes used interchangeably with uveitis and is an inflammation of the iris (the colored part of your eye).
This can cause blurred vision and tissue damage that eventually leads to loss of vision. Other symptoms include redness of the eye, sensitivity to light, and floaters. Medical eye drops can help treat inflammation.
A detached retina is serious and requires immediate medical attention. When the retina separates from the eye, vision becomes blurry. People may experience symptoms before the retina detaches, including floaters or flashing lights, peripheral shadows, and other visual obstructions. Treatment of retinal detachment involves surgery.
One of the possible symptoms of a stroke is blurred vision. People can also have trouble concentrating. other strokes Symptoms include facial changes, speech problems, leg weakness, balance problems, and dizziness. A stroke requires emergency treatment.
People with macular degeneration have blurred vision in the center of vision, but their peripheral vision remains clear. It is a common cause of vision loss in older adults. Depending on the type of macular degeneration, treatments may be available. Some medications can help slow the progression of the condition.
Glaucoma is a condition that damages the optic nerve. Of the two types of glaucoma, angle-closure glaucoma can cause acute or immediate blurred vision. It is also known as narrow-angle glaucoma.
An acute attack can trigger a sudden, intense pressure buildup, which requires immediate medical attention. If left untreated, glaucoma can cause permanent blindness. Other symptoms of an acute attack include sudden fainting, nausea, vomiting, severe pain, and headache.
Once damage to glaucoma occurs, it cannot be reversed. Control of disease progression includes medical eye drops, laser surgery, or a surgery called trabeculectomy.
There can be many reasons for experiencing blurred vision. Allergies and irritation can cause temporary blurring. Serious conditions such as glaucoma and macular degeneration can also cause blurred vision and require immediate medical attention.
Unfortunately, many people don’t always find out about their vision issues until it is too late and the damage is permanent. That’s why getting regular eye exams is so important. In some cases, as long as the problem is caught early, treatment can slow the progression of the disease.